*** Based on an email from an aspiring indie author asking for help with starting out with self-publishing ***
I’ll add this post to a future edition of my Self-Publishing Wiz eBook. Adding to my blog here in case anyone else finds it useful ^^.
[“Think Long Term” | Image from Canrock Ventures]
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Original Email (from a “19-year-old proud Filipino male”):
“…Oh yes! I have plans to appear as a new writer in the publishing world. I wanna have my own novel and let people know that I am writing such book. But I am pretty much confused as to how I would start my journey after I’ve written one. What will be my first step(s) after I have my novel? ”
Jess’s reply (original email = quick thinking + typing):
First step after the novel is done — I think would be to plan/design a book cover (I usually “think of it” while writing the novel). The book cover has to look good when small image (since people will be browsing it online — has to be eye-catching as a small image).
Follow the Smashwords Style Guide to properly format the eBook version. If you’d like to have a print version, there’s www.lulu.com, www.createspace.com, and www.lightningsource.com (this last one = most expensive option but most professional also).
Some reviews would be good too (like the “members giveaway” programme on LibraryThing). I like to spend more time on production side though. But the reviews are good for credibility. Your book should be “easy to find” from your blog/website/etc also (for new visitors/readers to find).
*** Publishing is pretty much a long-term thing — so I think it’d help if you think of how you want to build up your brand over time. What is your work about / what’s your message / what are the genres you work in (something to attract people to your brand / your books). For me I had/have to usually think about whether I want to write “as an art form” or “commercially.” ***
You have to write a good summary and synopsis for your book also. It must be succinct yet enticing at the same time (people have short attention spans!). Choose good keywords and categories (easier when you have “books in series,” since people tend to buy all the books in a series if they like the first book).
I would recommend first uploading the book on www.smashwords.com (that’s where I first uploaded). Amazon’s would be https://kdp.amazon.com (but I’m not sure about how the international tax forms work). Smashwords allows you to sell on Barnes and Noble and some other retailers under the “premium” programme (which is still free at the moment).
SINCE people like free samples / free things, you might want to do some freebie promos (either mini eBooks, or perhaps a short story, essay, etc.). That allows more people to find you also.
It helps to have *** clearly-defined goals *** from the start — if you want to focus solely on profits, target a commercial niche that has a large audience (thrillers; horror; epic fantasy; etc.). If you have goals that are not just money-related then it’s best to respect those goals also (making a difference; originality; etc.). The good part is that you really have full business and creative control.
Hope that’s not too confusing — I usually just charge ahead and “see what to do” along the way (no structured sequence, lol!).
P.S. I bolded and put a “***” above on the points that were “most important” to tackle, in my personal experience.